San Marcos,
21
October
2015

New Study Examines Latino Community Participation and Civic Leadership in San Diego

Press Release by Margaret Chantung

The National Latino Research Center (NLRC) at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) announces the launch of Cultivando Liderazgo (Nurturing Leadership), a study that examines civic engagement, national service and volunteering behavior among Latinos and Latinas in San Diego County. Funded thus far with a one-year $284,067 cooperative agreement from the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps and other national service programs, this three-year study aims to develop methodological and theoretical innovations to help researchers recognize strengths and understand what factors may increase engagement.

Lead researchers, Marisol Clark-Ibáñez, CSUSM associate professor of sociology, and Arcela Nuñez-Alvárez, research director at NLRC, are building on the Universidad Popular: Cultivando Liderazgo (People’s University: Nurturing Leadership) program, an initiative designed to demonstrate feasible and effective methods for promoting lifelong civic engagement among Latino participants, particularly low-income adults with low formal education levels.

“Community participation in civic leadership for Latinos is especially relevant in San Diego County given that civic engagement among Latinos lags far behind their White, Asian and African American counterparts both in California and nationally,” said Nuñez-Alvárez. “Although individual experiences that motivate civic engagement are well-documented, research on factors such as age, educational background, socio-economic status, familial upbringing, cultural context and geographic locale, which are also related to civic engagement, have not been studied empirically.”

Both Clark-Ibáñez and Nuñez-Alvárez have extensive and demonstrated experience in promoting education and civic literacy. The research team at NLRC has over 15 years of experience conducting nationally-recognized research in education, civic engagement, youth empowerment and justice, health education, and disaster-preparedness among migrant and Latino families in the region. NLRC’s on-going, close collaborative work among hard-to-reach communities in the region has earned it noteworthy credibility among the Spanish-speaking migrant and Latino communities of Southern California. For the Cultivando Liderazgo project, collaborating organizations include the San Diego County Public Library and the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Comprehensive approaches to understanding the civic engagement of Latinos are needed so that we can recognize the strengths of this population in order to build upon them and understand what factors will lead to their increased civic engagement,” noted Nuñez-Alvárez. “Clearly Cultivando Liderazgo can help us to understand the dynamics behind the civic engagement of this important and growing community of the region.”

About the National Latino Research Center

The National Latino Research Center (NLRC) is committed to contributing to the knowledge and understanding of rapidly growing U.S. Latino populations through applied research, training, technical assistance, research-based services, and information exchange. The NLRC envisions a diverse, just and equitable society that provides a healthy environment through universal quality healthcare, education, technology and political representation. Specializing in applied research, the NLRC brings together key stakeholders from the community, government, NGO sector, and private industry to identify solutions and develop strategies to address local and regional challenges. The NLRC conducts research and training in the areas of education, civic engagement, cultural competency, health, environmental issues, public policy, and community development. In addition to research projects, the NLRC provides technical assistance to a range of organizations and actively supports multi-agency collaborations that seek to leverage resources and expertise.

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Margaret Chantung
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Christine Vaughan
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